Roundtable (1)

Between (square) Round Table Discussions

What happened since the last time?

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Written by Kim Sneum Madsen

Earlier this year, we introduced you to our new concept Round Table Discussions. Now, it's time for an update as to what has happened since the last time and what you can expect for the future to come:

2½ months ago, we held the first Round Table Discussion in Umbraco and shared the notes from the Round Table Discussion with you. Now, I would like to share some of the things that have been achieved since then and thereby give you an insight into the progress and our thoughts. 

Transparency, communication, lower the entry barriers & several ways to contribute

We had the annual two days community team meeting for the three community teams back in November, where the teams challenged the status quo and dived into discussions on how to improve the contribution process. 

The teams we currently have are: 

All teams now have their own page on Our.Umbraco.com (see the links above for each team) describing their mission, goals, activities, how to get in touch and not to forget how you can get involved. Whether it is asking questions, discussing, commentating or another form of contribution.

Each team has worked on and will continue to work on how to involve and engage other community members, including how to lower the barriers for engagement. 

All the stewards (or team leads) are currently HQ staff, but it could as well be a community member who has that role. 

As per the discussion at the Round Table, we have implemented the model of concentric circles. We will continue using this model of concentric circles trying to identify “personas” in the circles. 

Furthermore, we will increase communication and communicate more about team activities, thus becoming more visible and accessible to the outside world. This should help us move away from a “who you know” access towards more accessibility to the outside world. 

A fourth team has just been announced, the “Unicore Team”, who will work on moving Umbraco version 8 to .NET Core. This team will use the same methods as described above regarding communication and visibility.

A final comment on this topic is that contribution comes in many different flavours and we do recognize that there are several ways of getting involved. 

If submitting a pull request is not your cup of tea or you enjoy speaking at events or organizing meetups, for example, we would love to hear from you. 

One of the initiatives we are currently working on is “Speakers Academy”. The purpose is to give future speakers in the community an opportunity to test and hone their skills. 

We have not finalized the concept yet, and we are open to comments and suggestions, so please reach out to Ilham ilham@umbraco.com or me on sneum@umbtraco.com

The chasm between stability/spontaneity and less big PR

At the Round Table Discussion, we discussed that in the “olden days” things like pull requests were bigger, they got implemented faster and Umbraco was more open and with fewer rules and processes. 

It was also recognised that along with the increased reach of the software and growth in both the community and the company, the need for stability, predictability and reliability was demanded and has subsequently risen significantly. 

We can’t change that.

Obviously, we don’t want to be less spontaneous than called for, nor do we want to be rigid and closed. 

We have neither a limit on the size of any given PR. Big and small are welcome. 

We recognise that it might not be (perceived) as being as easy as it previously was, but we still strive to make it as simple and transparent as possible. Furthermore, it requires a coordinated effort ensuring predictability. 

Down below, you can find some of our thoughts on how we want to accommodate this: 

  • As for “smaller contributions” much work is done through “The Core Collaborators” including discussion of “feature like” PRs.

  • Contributions which are more relevant for packages will be handled by the Package Team which has the goal of making packages a first class citizen.

  • In regards to topics outside the above two categories, please reach out to our product owner Mr Rune Hem Strand (product@umbraco.com) to suggest, comment or discuss product related areas. I would like to mention two examples: 
    • Our Gold Partner Perplex is working on segmentation. They reached out, and through several PRs, we are assisting them with reviews and sparring on implementing this feature.
    • The Accessibility Team have raised the standard of the Umbraco CMS significantly over the many past releases. This is a coordinated community effort and has resulted in many small(er) PRs that get handled through the Core Collaborators team in our standard PR process. This makes it possible to continually improve accessibility in the back office as opposed to making a few huge PRs that would be much more difficult and time-consuming to review and merge.

Appraisal of Request for comments Process (RFC)

We have continued the discussion on the Request for Comments process (RFC) at HQ. We want to appraise it and evaluate whether it serves its purpose, as it has only been used 17 times since its introduction. 

The RFC process was created at the retreat before Codegarden 2019, and we find that the retreat 2020 in May is the right venue for evaluating the RFC process.

Inclusion in discussions at HQ and Release Candidates

It was also discussed and recommended that HQ should include the community even more in the discussion of suggested features and evaluating releases. We have done two things in this context:

  1. We have a meeting every other week “CMS PRs that require team discussions”. Here, we have invited a team member of the Core Collaborators Mrs Emma Burstow to participate in these.

  2. Release candidates (RC). With one exception, all minor releases since the Round Table had a Release Candidate (the exception being related only to our headless project - Umbraco Heartcore). We will continue to do so, making sure that there is an RC available for a two week period before the planned minor release (not patches).

The Next Round Table Discussion

As we did with the first one, we have decided that they are best held in connection to an event. Therefore we will hold the next Round Table in Bristol on the 5th of March, which is the day before Umbraco Spark

We have decided to invite the same group of people to ensure continuity. One of the topics we will discuss at the Next Round Table Discussion is how to proceed with the format. 

Other community-related news

Over the last 1½ years, we have staffed up in and around HQ staff involved directly in community activities. 

We’ll continue doing this, and as of next year, we can welcome Mr Arnold Visser as part of the company. 

Many of you know that Arnold has been a board member in the DUUG (Dutch Umbraco User Group) who organise the annual Dutch Umbraco Conference and meet-ups in The Netherlands.

Here at HQ, Arnold will have a dual role. He will both be working with partners as part of the SUITS team, but he’ll also be working as an Umbraco Advocate.

The latter includes the continued work for DUUG, but also assisting other festival organisers where needed, drawing upon his many years of experience organising the Dutch festival. 

Finally, there is only one thing left for me to say, and that is a big thank you for this year. I wish you all a happy New Year with lots of community happiness. 

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